By Dayo Johnson
Ahead of the October 10 governorship election in Ondo State, politicking has commenced across the state. In this interview, the state Information and Orientation Commissioner, Donald Ojogo, defends his principal, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu(SAN), on the alleged marginalisation of Ijaw in the state and highlighted all development projects embarked upon by him in the minority Ese-Odo council area of the state. Excerpts:
There is this allegation by the APC lawmaker representing Ese-Odo State Constituency that the minority Ijaw in the state are being marginalised by the Akeredolu-led government.
As a representative of the people, he is entitled to his own opinion and views. I’m also from the area. When I read through the interview, three things came to my mind: either he was inspired by lack of adequate information, or he was misquoted or he acted out of emotions.
These are pardonable instances. Very pardonable. But the truth of the matter is that it will be wrong for him to say that this is the only government, unlike previous governments, that has marginalised the Ijaw.
Yes, I want more development for my people; you cannot but stop lobbying for projects to be taken to your area. But again, we must be able to differentiate between proper representation and activism. What I’ve seen is not proper representation. It is blackmail at play.
When he said less than N50 million worth of projects have been attracted to the area, well I don’t know if he was informed of the cost of the Sabome/Igbotu Road that was constructed by this current administration. It was constructed at a cost of over N600 million.
Ask him who owns ITDC, the contractor that executed the job; a high-ranking official of the government from that area. I wouldn’t know if he also has information about the road linking Agadagbaobon and Amapere that is almost 50 percent completed.
I also would not know whether he is aware of the 12 primary schools that are either being reconstructed, renovated or rehabilitated by the current government in Ese-Odo Local Government Area, out of which eight were handled by the same official who I suspect is the lawmaker’s source of inspiration.
Then what do you think is the missing link?
We are all Ijaw from Ese-Odo. I’m a full-blooded Arogbo-Ijaw man. My mother and my father are all Arogbo. So nobody can claim to love Arogbo more than me.
When you talk about the governor not liking Ijaw people, I laugh because this is a governor whose mother is also an Ijaw woman and deputy from Ese-Odo.
That was the reason the governor handed over everything concerning Ese-Odo to his deputy to handle. Nobody can claim to be more Ijaw than Governor Akeredolu who is from Ese-Odo. His mother is from Igbotu. So what are people trying to insinuate?
The truth over the matter is that from what I have seen, it is a proxy battle and it is unfortunate that my brother will make himself available to start this rehearsal, which I feel enriches some self-delusions. If he was properly informed maybe he would have known that this is the first time Ijaw will properly represent themselves on the board of OSOPADEC on the basis of oil production status.
Previous governments have never done it before. It had always been on the basis of senatorial representation, but this time around, this is the first time someone for Ese-Odo will be Secretary of OSOPADEC board. Perhaps, he may have forgotten that this is the only governor, the first and only governor, who stood his grounds and insisted that enough of this marginalisation of the Arogbo-Ijaw and that it is time they must to go to the National Assembly even when he knew that they were powerful forces who didn’t want the Ijaw to get the ticket of the House of Representatives.
He insisted that the Ijaw have not had a fair share and that for the first time, a governor provided the platform for the Ijaw by ensuring the House of Representatives ticket of our party, the APC, was given to them.
But we should now ask ourselves, what happened to that laudable platform that was provided by the governor who they claimed does not like the Ijaw people? The same Ijaw of Ese-0do, who are inspiring the lawmaker to be careless and tactless, sabotaged the great efforts of the governor because of their primordial interests. So, who is blaming who?
The cry of marginalisation is not peculiar to the Ijaw people. Yes, we will continue to cry for even development and equitable representation, but it didn’t start today so. It is out of the desire to blackmail a sitting governor that he has come out to make the statement that this is the only governor who has marginalised the Ijaw, unlike the previous governments.
Are you saying the lawmaker knows all these but decide to be economical with the truth about the governor and the party?
He even knows more than these. If he is talking about the marginalisation of the Ijaw, I expected him to ask a pertinent question: why did we not have at least one of the big OSOPADEC projects out of three that were given to Ese-Odo, in Arogbo?
OSOPADEC earmarked to embark on seven major projects, very good projects, that won’t be less than N100 million each. Four in Ilaje and three in Ese-Odo. In the whole of Arogbo none was considered. The three that came to Ese-Odo, the deputy governor out of hatred for the Arogbo people, ignored us.
So much for Ijaw marginalisation.
Not even one was given to us because he decided the citing of the three projects. I can tell you that rather than blame the governor, we should ask the deputy governor how fair has he been in the exercise of the privilege given to him by Governor Akeredolu?
The deputy governor has been most unfair to Arogbo-Ijaws. Blame not Akeredolu.
The lawmaker threw another salvo that the governor has not reflected the minority status of the Ijaw in appointments and employments…
When we come to employment, the answer to that is too close and very recent. Just two months ago, the state Ministry of Justice recruited 22 young lawyers. Out of these, four are from Arogbo. The honourable in question even had a slot.
In OSOPADEC, he influenced the empIoyment of his sibling only recently. That is laudable. But then, I expect the lawmaker to ask how many of our Arogbo people were employed when the governor entrusted the employment of staff at the Igbekebo General Hospital in the hands of the deputy governor?
I can tell you that out of the over 200, we have less than 16. The man should ask his sponsor who got the rest.